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The Data & Marketing Commission


The Direct Marketing Commission (DMC) is the body that

oversees and enforces the DMA Code.

The DMC investigates and adjudicates on reported breaches of the Code by DMA members.

The DMC can also pass comment and recommendation to the DMA regarding particular aspects of the Code and the promotion of compliance.

The DMC may consult consumer, enforcement and advisory services to ensure the relevance and effectiveness of the Code, as well as to help identify emerging consumer issues.

The DMC produces a public annual report of its work.

More information about the DMC:

Complaints considered

The DMC will investigate any complaint, made against a DMA member, that relates to one-to-one marketing activity and falls under the scope of the Code.

A complaint can either be received directly or referred from the DMA or from a statutory, advisory, self-regulatory or enforcement body.

The DMC can also open an investigation on its own initiative if it sees an issue, involving a member company, that might pose a serious threat to public trust in direct marketing, or to the well-being of consumers.

The DMC will investigate a complaint against a non-DMA

member if the Code is binding on that party by any regulatory, licensing or other condition.

Complaints not considered

Where a complaint is of a contractual nature and does not involve a serious breach of the Code that would affect other parties, then the disputing parties may be advised to use an alternative mechanism to reach resolution.

If a complaint is not covered by the Code, or involves a company not in DMA membership, it will be referred to another relevant organisation or enforcement body.

The DMC may look at and express a view on the conduct of non-members in exceptional circumstances, where this is in the best interests of customers and members in the marketplace, but will not seek to enforce the Code or the procedures set out here.

More information about the complaints process:

Receipt of complaints

A complaint can be made in writing or online at

The DMC aims to acknowledge a complaint within two working days and to complete a case involving investigation and adjudication within three months, but expects an informally-resolved case to be closed in a shorter timeframe.

The DMC can only act on a complaint if there is enough information to identify that there is an issue in relation to the Code and a party over which the DMC has jurisdiction.

A complaint should be accompanied by all available supporting material, such as correspondence or a copy of the relevant commercial communication.

Gathering evidence

Upon receipt of a complaint, the Secretariat will raise the matter directly with the member. The member must respond to this request within 10 working days of receipt.

If the member fails to respond to any request for information from the Secretariat, this may in itself constitute a breach of the Code and result in disciplinary action.

The Secretariat may also request that the member responds directly to the complainant, with a copy of any response sent to the DMC.

The DMC may ask the DMA to compile additional information to inform investigation into any complaints.

Investigation process

The DMC exercises judgment in deciding whether a complaint or a number of related complaints appear to

require a substantive investigation and a formal adjudication or whether the matter can be resolved informally.

It is the responsibility of the DMC, and the chief commissioner in particular, to ensure complaints are treated in a proportionate and appropriate manner.

Informal resolution

Where there appears to have been a minor breach of the Code and where there is no evidence of wider harm or risk, the Secretariat may close the matter with a formal reminder of the member’s obligations under the Code.

Where a complaint can be answered by the Secretariat

without reference to the member, a copy of any correspondence will be sent to the member for information.

In a case where an informal resolution is being considered, the DMC retains the right to revert to a formal investigation in the light of evidence of more serious or widespread harm.

If a complaint is not resolved to the satisfaction of the DMC, or it appears that there is a serious or ongoing breach of the Code, it will be referred to the DMC Board for consideration and possible adjudication under the provisions of the Code.

Formal investigation

If a complaint is referred to the DMC Board, the Secretary will inform the member and request any information or comment. Members must respond to the request within 10 working days.

The Secretariat may revert to the member, either through meetings or correspondence, if this is necessary to bring together the information needed to reach an informed adjudication.

The Secretariat will then submit a report to the DMC, including any material that either party has specifically requested be brought to attention.

The DMC Board will then consider the complaint, requesting any further information as necessary.

The DMC may invite the member to meet with them in advance of their deliberations if it is thought that it would be helpful for the member to explain their business model and the events in question informally.

In the case of a formal investigation, member representations may be made as part of the evidence-gathering process and just prior to adjudication.

Adjudication meetings generally involve only Commissioners and the Secretariat.

The Secretariat may end a formal investigation during the process and close the case, or reach an informal resolution if it becomes clear the case did not merit a substantive process and formal adjudication.

The decision of the DMC will be recorded and communicated in writing to the member company.

A summary of the adjudication is placed on the DMC website as soon as possible in all cases following a formal investigation, whether or not breaches have been upheld. A summary is NOT posted if the DMC declines to adjudicate on the grounds that there is no case to answer.

The DMC may refer a case back to the Secretariat with a request that the Secretariat look further at resolving the matter though informal procedures.

More information about adjudications:


If a complaint is upheld following adjudication, the DMC has a range of sanctions that it will apply proportionately, depending on the seriousness of the issue or complaint.

These include:

A formal recommendation to the DMA

A formal visit to the member by the DMA

A formal undertaking from the member to comply with the standards set out in the Code

An undertaking by the member to carry out specific changes in processes, procedures, management or other arrangements to ensure an end to the problem

The DMC may make a recommendation to the DMA that a member be suspended from DMA membership or have their membership cancelled in cases where the DMC thinks this is necessary and proportionate.

The DMC may refer a member to relevant law enforcement and consumer protection bodies when this appears necessary.

The DMC may make its adjudications and files available to these bodies as required.

More information about the sanctions:


Where the DMC concludes that a member is in breach of the Code, the member is entitled to appeal against that ruling, as well as against any sanctions imposed by the DMC to the Independent Appeals Commissioner (IAC).

On the application of the member, the DMC has the discretion to not implement any sanctions imposed until all appeal mechanisms have been exhausted.

Members must submit an appeal in writing to the IAC within 14 days of the DMC communicating their decision.

The IAC will only consider an appeal on one or more of the following grounds:

Substantial new evidence has emerged affecting the reliability of the original decision

The decision is unreasonable in the circumstances

DMC procedures have not been adhered to, with the result that the member’s position has been prejudiced

The DMC has acted ultra vires (beyond its powers)

The sanction imposed is not proportionate

Where the IAC agrees to consider an appeal, that decision will be communicated by notice to the member within 30 days of submission of the appeal. From this notice, the IAC then has a period of eight weeks in which to consider the appeal.

Where the IAC finds in favour of the member, they will refer the decision back to the DMC and invite it to reconsider its findings or the sanction imposed.

Where a decision by the DMC has been found to be perverse, the IAC will make their own decision. This will be final and binding on all parties.

The DMC must consider a case redirected by the IAC within 30 days of his decision. Once the DMC has either confirmed or substituted its earlier decision, that decision shall be final and binding on all parties.

More information about the appeals process:

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